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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

High speed or dial up?

I'd like to quote something my pastor has frequently said, but which I think bears repeating:  "Religion is US working OUR way to God.  Christianity is GOD working HIS way to us."  (Pastor Chad Moore)  There is really no more eloquent way to put it!  Our old way of doing business centered entirely around US keeping the rules and getting things straight.  Our new way of living is to allow God to make his way into our lives and to go about setting things right on our behalf.  Lest we think this involves absolutely nothing from us, let me set the record straight on that one.  As long as we are connected with Christ, sin speaks a "dead language" to us - it is like we hear it, but we don't respond to it because we don't understand it any longer.  The part we play is in maintaining the connection.  I use a wireless router when I am on my laptop.  This allows me the freedom to be on it in my kitchen, the front room, or even in the bedroom.  There have been times when I have fired up the laptop to work on my blog or to play a game only to find there is no connection to the internet.  The rest of the laptop works - it looks like it is working just fine.  It isn't until I go to access the internet that I experience the "no connection" screen.  Sometimes I think we look like we are all "fired up", running along at lightning speed, but on the inside, we are making no connection to what really helps us accomplish life at its fullest.  It is this connection which helps us fulfill our purpose, not just that we are breathing and our heart is beating!

Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.  (Romans 6:6-11 MSG)

Breath and a heartbeat is as fruitless as a laptop without internet connection! Sure, we can accomplish some things - like writing a draft of the blog - but we cannot finish it because the connection isn't there.  Maybe this is why we "start" so much in our walk only to find we fizzle out after a couple of weeks! We aren't making the right connection.  When the wireless router isn't quite sending the signal, I have to get up, go to the den, disconnect it from the power source, and then watch as it comes to life again.  What I have done is re-establish the connection.  It was there all along, but somehow it got scrambled, cut off a little, or just plain wasn't recognized as it needed to be. Therefore, it appeared to be "offline" when in fact the connectivity was three all along - just not "active".  Truth be told, we have connectivity "to" God, but sometimes we just lack the connectivity "with" God.  Signals are firing, but they aren't making the connection!

Two "connections" are referred to in our passage today - one is the connection with the "old life" and the other the "new life".  To understand which connection is occurring, you look at the fruit of what is produced.  When we are connecting to the "old life", we are at sin's beck and call.  Been there, done that, bought the shirt, and wore it out!  Then this "new life" connection began to take place.  It was like changing from dial up internet to super-fast high-speed!  The old "dial up" me had to sputter around, wasting time on this and that in hopes somehow I'd hit it lucky and connect with something which actually came close to the change I hoped for in life.  That is what a whole bunch of rule keeping is really like - just sputtering around hoping for something good to come out of what it is we are doing.  This "new life" connection affords me not just instant access to God, but also with his power to accomplish the things I only dreamed of accomplishing when I was trying to connect TO him using the old "dial up" me!

I like what Paul says about the old life being like a dead language.  There are quite a few of those nowadays.  For most, Latin is a dead language - we just don't go around speaking it as a primary language anymore.  Sure, a lot of medical terminology finds its roots in the Latin, but trust me, my patients would rather I tell them they have a cold and sore throat rather than hearing they have nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, or a case of acute coryza! Heavens, those all make us sound like we are going to die any day now!  Yes, Latin is still used in some circles (like science and the medical profession), but we don't go around spouting it to order a Big Mac and Fries at our local McDonald's!  For those who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior, sin's language is also a dead language - we might still hear it spoken, but we don't use it in our everyday activity any longer!  The less we connect to the old and the more we connect to the new, the more we see our life changing.  Sin's language is a pretty complex language.  Salvation's language is just the opposite - easy to grasp, quick to be spoken, and easy to share!

Connection to or connection with - which is it you find most appealing?  When I connect TO something or someone, I find an attachment formed.  When I connect WITH something or someone, I find a union formed.  There is a difference, isn't there?  If we find we are going through the motions of life, but lack the real power to live as we should, we probably are just opting for the first.  When we transition to connecting WITH God, we find the deeply rewarding "disconnect" from the old and the "fresh connection" to the new. Just sayin!